Geology & Minerals: Santa Fe NF, Jemez District, Soda Dam

Soda Dam

The Jemez River flows through a breach in the soda damThe Soda Dam is made of travertine, calcium carbonate precipitated from groundwater.  There are currently 15 springs and seeps in the Soda Dam area with a maximum temperature of 48 degrees C. The springs that precipitated the travertine discharge from a strand of the Jemez fault zone that runs through the area.  The Jemez fault predates the formation of the Valles caldera.

Warm water issues from a spring across the road from the Soda DamAbout 35 years ago, the State Highway Department dynamited a hole in the dam in order to build the current road and the plumbing of the hot spring waters was disrupted.  Because of the disruption, the Soda Dam is now slowly disintegrating.

The Grotto Spring in the center of the Soda DamThe maximum age of the travertine deposits that make up the Soda Dam is 7000 years.  However, older deposits in the area have been dated at 480,000 to 1 million years old.  This is about the same age as the Valles caldera.